Cannes Film Festival 2023: we saw “The Idol”, the sulphurous series with Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd in the scent of scandal

The Depp family is definitely under the spotlight of this 76th Cannes Film Festival. After the controversial presence of Johnny Depp in the opening film Jeanne du Barry, it was his daughter Lily-Rose who was the star of the red carpet on Monday evening for the world premiere presentation of the first two episodes. The Idol, in which she co-stars with singer The Weeknd. The series produced by HBO and directed by Sam Levinson, the creator of Euphoria, will be broadcast from June 5 in France on Prime Video.

Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) embodies a popstar in full doubt after a depression linked to the death of her mother. While trying to find the heights with a new hit, she will meet a flamboyant nightclub owner with a dark past, Tedros (The Weeknd). Together, they will start an unhealthy romance that will lead to a deep questioning of the artist and directly impact relations with the team responsible for managing his career.

Nudity and decadence

Perfectly assumed by HBO as being “the most sordid love story in all of Hollywood”series The Idol sets the scene right from the start, with a very sexy photo shoot of the young star organized in her luxury villa. Session in which she will not hesitate to strip naked in front of the lenses when it was not provided for in the contract: “It’s my body”, she is content to answer her managers. The series is directly inspired by the dazzling then decadent trajectory of Britney Spears (who is quoted in the first episode). The narration around the introspection of Jocelyn, who lives in the phobia of humiliation, will very quickly move away from musical considerations to focus on her relationship with Tedros and the hold he has on her.

Lily-Rose Depp’s performance as the pop icon is indisputable. After film appearances in Planetarium, The Faithful Man, The king, Ihe 24-year-old actress and model, daughter of Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp, is enjoying her first major role here. And she wonderfully interprets this superstar oscillating between determination and fragility, in lack of emotional reference points, who finds himself subjected to drastic artistic demands and permanent pressure from those around him. The story around the superficial aspect of celebrities, the ironic look at our time where “intimacy coordinators” coexist and the great unrest of social networks, come to denounce without restraint the formatting of the current music industry.

Actress Lily-Rose Depp and Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, on the set of the series "The Idol", by Sam Levinson.  (EDDY CHEN / HBO)

Sexism and Rape Fantasy

But the director ofEuphoria Sam Levinson pushes the cursor of indecency here too far. And even to discomfort when he explicitly addresses the fantasy of rape in a conversation between the singer and her assistant: “That’s precisely what I like about him”, will respond the popstar to the warnings launched by his confidante on the real intentions of the “guru” embodied by Abel Tesfaye alias The Weeknd. Then follow very suggestive sequences (intimate photos, masturbations…) with sometimes excessively vulgar dialogues, clearly intended for an informed public. Between scenes of submission that are reminiscent of those in the films “50 Shades…” and situations of a sexist nature, the series sends proprieties waltzing to offer a falsely glamorous show that touches the borders of pornography.

Pinned as early as March by an article by RollingStone accusing him of pouring into “torture porn”, the six-episode mini-series also creates controversy for his tumultuous gestation. The hasty departure of director Amy Seimetz and her replacement by Sam Levinson would have multiplied the budget and upset the screenplay choices, according to the American magazine. Present at a press conference after the screening, the director, whose “the biggest dream was to be present at the Cannes Film Festival”defended his creative freedom by claiming to propose with The Idol “the biggest show of the summer”. His series will not escape the sscandals, but it will have at least managed to make a lot of noise about it before its release on June 5th.

“The Idol”, by Sam Levinson, The Weeknd, Reza Fahim. With The Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp, Suzanna Son. Released June 4, 2023 on HBO in the United States and June 5 on Prime Video in France. Six episodes of approximately 60 min.

on HBO / 60 min / Drama
Created by Sam Levinson, The Weeknd, Reza Fahim
With The Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp, Suzanna Son

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